Ensuring Your E-Commerce Site Stays Up over the Holidays

The holidays herald an uptick in traffic, and not just on the highways and in the airport. With more and more people avoiding Black Friday crowds and electing to do their holiday shopping from the comfort of home, many e-commerce sites are being bombarded by traffic from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. If your site suffers downtime during this crucial sales season, you could miss out on major opportunities to make sales and impress prospective customers.

There’s no denying that website downtime can cost you. While you might not suffer the same losses as a mega-corporation like Best Buy, Amazon, or Macy’s, you could still see prospective losses numbering in the thousands of dollars should your e-commerce site crash for any length of time. You’ll not only lose sales, but you could also irreparably damage relationships with customers. Online shoppers can be fickle, and it only takes one blackout on your site to send them running to competitors.

The good news is that you can take steps to decrease the potential for downtime, catch problems early, and plan accordingly so that you’re back up and running before anyone has noticed a service interruption on your site. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure a hassle-free holiday season where your e-commerce site is concerned.

Assess Your Hosting Service

If you’ve had trouble with downtime in the past, now may be the time to consider switching to a more reliable hosting service. You’re probably not going to find a web host that guarantees up time, but you should be able to find vendors that offer some kind of plan to deal with unscheduled downtime, and possibly even reparations should you suffer excessive downtime.

It’s also a good idea to consider a vendor that offers managed hosting services. These professionals can not only host your website, but they can also offer you cloud storage and off-site data back-up, as well as system maintenance, network monitoring, and management. You’ll pay for these additional services, but it might be worth it to avoid downtime and keep consumers happy during the busiest shopping season of the year.

Scale Up

Most businesses plan to increase products and sales during the holiday season when consumers are spending like crazy. This could mean adding more pages to your website and/or your online store, as well as fielding requests for new memberships. As a result, you may need more storage space than you currently have.

In addition, you need to prepare for an increase in traffic and online sales, which could mean increasing your bandwidth to accommodate more customers. The right web host will offer the scalable solutions your business needs to account for a bump in holiday traffic and sales.

Beef Up Security

Nothing will affect your uptime more than hackers sneaking in and wreaking havoc with your website, so it’s best to examine your security to determine if you need an upgrade. There are several steps you can take to increase security.

You probably already have basics like a web application firewall and some kind of encryption in place, as well as a password system for employees and customers to log in securely. However, you may be able to do more.

For example, you could require strong passwords and prompt users to change passwords periodically to reduce the chance of hackers cracking passwords. You should also implement a system that wipes out all fields if a username or password is entered incorrectly (instead of leaving a correct username in place and making a hacker’s job that much easier).

You can also ask your managed services provider to monitor and report back on usage as a way to ensure that you know immediately when improper usage is occurring, signaling a breach.

Hire a Monitoring Service

Comprehensive managed services providers can be expensive – too expensive for some businesses. There is an equally appealing option, though, that will save you some money and help you to minimize downtime. You can hire a monitoring service to let you know immediately when your site is down.

An appropriate service can monitor several different aspects of your online operations, alert you when downtime occurs, and provide you with detailed reports to help you avoid downtime in the future. All of this is designed to minimize downtime and help you better manage your website during the holidays, and throughout the year.